A study published by the Center for Injury Research and Policy and the Central Ohio Poison Center at Nationwide Children’s Hospital found a noticeable increase in calls to U.S. poison control centers for kratom issues and empathizes the need to educate pregnant women on the real dangers.
Kratom usually comes in the form of pills and power, in any form the leaves from the tropical kratom tree can be used to do the thing: treat depression, pain, anxiety and even ween people off opioids.
“It’s a natural plant that people look at and say oh it’s natural it’s safe, but it’s a very potent plant,” Henry Spiller, MS, DABAT, co-author of the new study and executive of the Central Ohio Poison Center at Nationwide Children’s Hospital said.
According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, the leaves contain compounds that can cause similar effects of opioids and stimulants by interacting with opioid receptors in the brain, resulting in sedation, pleasure and pain relief when taken in large doses. However, in small amounts users claim to feel increased energy, openness, and alertness.
Despite it being a natural plant, Spiller urges people to get educated.
“People aren’t aware of the risks of this,” Spiller said.
The information suggested that the annual number of calls to poison control centers saw an increase, going from 13 calls in 2011 to 700 calls in 2017, making that one call per month to two calls per day, with most of the spike happening from 2016-2017
If taken incorrectly users can experience seizures or at the worst death.
“There’s a whole number of other things that people aren’t aware that this does,” Spiller announced.
Many medical effects caused by kratom including Tachycardia, irritability, hypertension, seizures, coma, renal (kidney) failure and death have been highlighted in the study.
“Kratom use has been associated with a variety of serious medical outcomes, from seizures and coma in adults to severe withdrawal syndrome in newborns,” explained Spiller.
Interesting the study discovered that kids were also exposed, including around seven newborns. Five of which were experience withdrawal. Which alarmed the researchers, including Spiller.
“We need to let mothers know. This is going to affect your fetus, this is going to affect your child,” Spiller emphasized.
As a whole, the study reports 48 of those calls were concerning kratom exposure to children 12 years of age and younger, 69 percent of this 48 were under two years old.
A few states like Alabama, Arkansas, Indiana, Tennessee, Vermont, and Wisconsin have banned the substance, making kratom illegal to possess.
Ohio’s state pharmacy board announced that they are aiming to make the drug a scheduled one substance, which falls into the same category as heroin and marijuana. After the board meeting, they received 6,000 public comments from both sides of the issue and are now taking the time to review before move forward.
Currently, the plant-based substance is listed by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) as a “drug of concern.” The FDA has not granted kratom any clearance or approval, which means the product quality, purity concentration can be dangerous.